Packaging engineering

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Testing modified atmosphere in a plastic bag of carrots
Military shipping container being drop tested
Engineers developing methods of molding packaging components from renewable resources such as straw[1]

Packaging engineering, also package engineering, packaging technology and packaging science, is a broad topic ranging from design conceptualization to product placement. All steps along the manufacturing process, and more, must be taken into account in the design of the package for any given product. Package engineering includes industry-specific aspects of industrial engineering, marketing, materials science, industrial design and logistics. Packaging engineers must interact with research and development, manufacturing, marketing, graphic design, regulatory, purchasing, planning and so on. The package must sell and protect the product, while maintaining an efficient, cost-effective process cycle.[2]

Engineers develop packages from a wide variety of rigid and flexible materials. Some materials have scores or creases to allow controlled folding into package shapes (sometimes resembling origami[3]). Packaging involves extrusion, thermoforming, molding and other processing technologies. Packages are often developed for high speed fabrication, filling, processing, and shipment. Packaging engineers use principles of structural analysis and thermal analysis in their evaluations.

Contract Packaging Engineering[edit]

Contract Packaging Engineering also known as Staffing Packaging Engineering, is a broad subgroup within the Packaging Engineering Field. Contract Packaging Engineers typically work under the jurisdiction of a written legal arrangement between a company and the engineer or consulting company. Contrary to a full-time engineer, Contract Packaging Engineers work per project and/or predetermined time stated within the contract. Companies typically hire Contract Packaging Engineers for at least one of the three reasons listed below:

  1. Company has a need to temporarily staff an open position
  2. Company has a desire to hire a candidate on a probationary contract
  3. Company is in need of an expert to assist in the execution or management of a project

Packaging Engineering Consultants, similar to Contract Packaging Engineers, are individuals with high level expertise and experience in a packaging engineering area who are hired to manage projects, develop new processes and evolve products.


Some packaging engineers have backgrounds in other science, engineering, or design disciplines while some have college degrees specializing in this field.[4]

Formal packaging programs might be listed as package engineering, packaging science, packaging technology, etc. BE, BS, MS, M.Tech and PhD programs are available. Students in a packaging program typically begin with generalized science, business, and engineering classes before progressing into industry-specific topics such as shelf life stability, corrugated box design, cushioning, engineering design, labeling regulations, project management, food safety,[5] robotics, RFID tags, quality management, package testing, packaging machinery,[6][7] tamper-evident methods,[8] recycling, computer-aided design,[9] etc.


In 1952, Michigan State University became the first university in the USA to offer a degree in Packaging.[10] Faculty and staff are widely published in packaging and other technical subjects.[11]

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is one of only a few schools in the United States (and the only school in the UW System) that offer a B.S. degree in Packaging. The program combines general education with technical and professional studies. The packaging program involves the use of materials, methods, design concepts and machinery to develop and produce the packages that protect and preserve a product, help market the product and instruct the consumer in its proper use. The UW-Stout program offers the opportunity to apply theory to real problems. Through laboratory and co-op work experiences, you will apply the principles of science, mathematics and communications skills.

Throughout its history, UW-Stout has developed technical programs to meet the needs of business and industry. These programs have focused upon the direct application of technical knowledge to the solution of practical problems. The UW-Stout program leads to interesting, challenging, and rewarding careers in package printing; business and sales; foods and packaging; package graphic design; manufacturing and quality management; or package design, research and development.

Rutgers University offers the nation’s only packaging program housed in an engineering school, since 1965. [12] Unique from other engineering disciplines in its dynamic, the Packaging Engineering Concentration prepares engineering students by drawing heavily from each of the chemical, industrial, materials and mechanical engineering fields. It requires a strong background in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and computers. The Rutgers Packaging Engineering Program also offers an 18 credit Graduate Packaging Engineering Certificate.[13]

Clemson University offers a bachelor's and master's degrees in Packaging Science, in addition to a PhD in Food Technology. The undergraduate program at Clemson requires student's to take at least one six-month co-op for the degree.

Rochester Institute of Technology's Packaging Science program was first established in 1972. It is an interdisciplinary degree that leads to either a bachelors or masters of science. RIT requires all Packaging Science students to complete a 6-month internship/Co-op. [14]

Central Philippine University in Iloilo City in the Philippines in 2006, is the first to offer (and considered as the first in Asia) in the Philippines a (5-6 year) bachelor's degree in Packaging Engineering.[15] It hosts the Philippine Center for Packaging Engineering and Technology that provides packaging engineering services and consultancy. University alumnus Dr. Lejo C. Brana, considered the founder of the packaging engineering program of the University, is a United States Hall of Famer in Packaging Engineering.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee started M.Tech in Packaging Technology in 2015. It is an interdisciplinary degree that leads to bachelors of technology.

In the United Kingdom, the Packaging Society, formerly the Institute of Packaging, offers the industry-standard Diploma in Packaging Technology. In India, The Indian institute of Packaging established in 1966, a national apex body which was set up in 1966 by the packaging and allied industries and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India offers the 2 years Postgraduate Diploma in packaging as well as Graduate Diploma and certificate courses.It has its centers in Mumbai, Kolkata, chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi.Government Polytechnic Nagpur an autonomous institute run by Maharashtra Government offers 3 years Diploma In Packaging Technology.

Conestoga College recently launched Canada's first Packaging Engineering Technician program in September 2015. [16] It is a two-year diploma program designed to train students in the structural design of packaging materials. The new technically-focused, hands-on program was developed in response to industry need, with many local companies reporting difficulty in finding candidates with the unique skill set required for success.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wood, Marcia (April 2002). "Leftover Straw Gets New Life". Agricultural Research. 
  2. ^ Johnson, C (1995). "In-House Testing of Computer Packaging". In Fiedler, R M. Distribution Packaging Technology. IoPP. 
  3. ^ Merali, Zeeya (17 June 2011), "Origami Engineer Flexes to Create Stronger, More Agile Materials", Science, 332: 1376–1377, doi:10.1126/science.332.6036.1376 
  4. ^ "Packaging Directory-Packaging Schools". Packaging world. Retrieved 14 Feb 2015.  line feed character in |publisher= at position 11 (help)
  5. ^ Lee, Ki-Eun; Kim, An; Lyu, Lee (November 1998). "Effectiveness of modified atmosphere packaging in preserving a prepared ready-to-eat food". Packaging Technology and Science. 21 (7). doi:10.1002/pts.821. 
  6. ^ Braglia, Maracello; Frosolini, Montanari (January 2003). "Fuzzy logic controller in a packaging plant". Packaging Technology and Science. 16 (1): 1–45. doi:10.1002/pts.608. 
  7. ^ Hicks, A. J.; Medland, Mullineux (September 2001). "A constraint-based approach to the modelling and analysis of packaging machinery". Packaging Technology and Science. 14 (5): 183–225. doi:10.1002/pts.553. 
  8. ^ Johnston, R.G. (July 1997). "Effecctive Vulnerability Assessment of Tamper-Indicating Seals". J. Testing and Evaluation. 25 (4). 
  9. ^ Han, Jongkoo; Park (January 2007). "Finite element analysis of vent/hand hole designs for corrugated fibreboard boxes". Packaging Technology and Science. 20 (1): 1–76. doi:10.1002/pts.741. 
  10. ^ "Michigan State School of Packaging". Michigan State University. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  11. ^ Twede, Diana; Selke, Susan (December 2014). Cartons, Crates & Corrugated Board, handbook of paper & wood packaging technology, Second Edition (2nd ed.). Lancaster PA: DEStech Publications. ISBN 978-1-60595-135-5. 
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  15. ^ CPU offers 'Packaging Engineering' the first and only in the Philippines .08-13-2012
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  • Yam, K. L., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-0-470-08704-6
  • Hanlon, Kelsey,and Forcinio, "Handbook of Package Engineering", CRC Press, 1998